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Newbury Boosts Student Involvement Through Calendaring
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Newbury College in Brookline, MA has decided to implement a new calendaring system for the campus after trying it out during a seven-week pilot. Newbury will be running DormNoise, a Web-based service that provides mobile device alerts to keep students and others informed about athletic, social, and other events.
The 1,000-student, four-year college tried out the subscription service after spring break earlier this year. According to statistics provided by the vendor, during the pilot 228 campus events were created, and 35 percent of the campus community signed up for the service.
"More than half of our students commute from off campus," said Amy Shirley, dean of student affairs. "We don't have the traditional student union-type space that other colleges might have. We don't have students that are looking to read flyers on the wall or use those traditional media that many of us were used to paying attention to when we were in college."
The college was looking for a solution, Shirley said, that could send reminders to students to let them know about events that were going on, based on their preferences. Students sign up for the service and then specify the categories of events they want notification of, such as those put on by a particular campus organization.
For the pilot project, the college fed its roster of events--such as the athletic schedule and student activities calendar--to DormNoise, which entered that information into the system. "We could edit it as we needed to," Shirley said, "but it was great to launch the program like that. We weren't launching a blank calendar." The school used old-fashioned promotional practices--posters and flyers--to publicize the launch.
To entice students and staff to try out the service, DormNoise offered incentives, such as an Amazon Kindle and tickets to the opening game at Fenway Park between the Red Sox and the Yankees. Student Affairs met with student groups to educate them about how to add events to the system.
Now that it has been adopted formally, the college itself will be entering new events and educating new members of the campus community each year. Shirley said information about the service has been added to the summer orientation program, for example, and student leaders will be trained on DormNoise's use.
Shirley, who called the price for DormNoise "cheap--a no-brainer," said she expects the addition of the service to bolster participation in Newbury's programs. "There's a student development theory that the more involved the student is, the more successful they are. We find that [true] across the board. Our athletes graduate at higher rates than non-athletes. Involved students know what's going on, manage their time well and thrive. We need to give them the tools to know what's going on, to have the option to get involved, so they can make the most of it."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.